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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

ALEXAKDEB VOJST  HUMBOIJDT.                  115
surveyed., and certainly not arranged in the few days
that the assembly lasted.    Humboldt soon recognised
this imperfect arrangement,   and  caused   the insti-
tution of   sections for   the  various   special   depart-
ments, in which every one had the privilege of an
interchange of progress, and only the universal matter
of general science was debated in the general meetings.
Humboldt   opened this   seventh   annual  convention
with a profound speech on the spirit and utility of
such annual meetings, and his words had, as always,
such a deep   influence  over  the   whole  intellectual
world, that soon afterwards annual convocations were
instituted   on the model of ttte Society of ISTatural
Historians in England and in Italy.
But the year 1828, spent by Alexander von Hum-
boldt in working for science, and in preparations for
his great Asiatic journey, also brought an event
which afflicted him deeply.
"We have already stated that the wife of William
von Humboldt had been ill for several years,—that
she had frequently visited the baths of Gastein for the
benefit of her health, and that   she  had,   after the
termination of Alexander's lectures, accompanied her
hxisband to Paris and London, to use the baths on her
return.    When she returned to Tegel, with her hus-
band, in the middle of September, her chronic disease
^attacked her with greater violence than before, and by
the end of November, she w«as lying in constant ex-
pectation of her approaching dissolution.    What Alex-
ander must have suffered we can judge by his feeling
heart, which had so often revealed itself In his life,
and in hi& works.    What must have been his feelings
when, he saw his ardently loved brother grieving in-
consolably by the death-bed of his adored wife; and
when he felt the last hour of his dear sister-in-law, so
pre-eminent for all the virtues of heart and mind, in-
evitably approach!   The dissolution did not take place
as soon as was anticipated;   she survived the new-
year's-clay  of   1829, and on  Sunday,   the  22nd  of
January, when Alexander had been with her im Tegel,
I 2